Insights from industry

The Evolution of Leak Detection

insights from industryPaul D. WehnertChief Marketing Officer CMOHeath Consultants

Please could you provide an overview of Heath Consultants and the work it does?

Heath Consultants Incorporated (HCI) was established in 1933. HCI operates in three (3) business units; the Damage Prevention Unit, which provides underground utility locating, the Natural Gas Emissions unit, which provides natural gas pipeline leak detection and meter services, and the Products Business Unit (PBU), which manufactures and distributes natural gas leak detection instruments, underground pipe and cable locators and odorant level testing equipment for natural gas.

The main goals of HCI include protecting public safety – including life and property – and reducing greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) such as methane and natural gas through gas detection products and field services.

Since its founding, how would you say the company has evolved?

HCI is currently the largest provider of natural gas leak detection products and services in the United States, providing leak detection technology and field services across the entire natural gas chain. HCI has evolved through the development of “state of the art” technologies for the detection of Natural Gas Leaks as well as the deployment of these technologies into our contract Field Services.

In operating as both a manufacturer and service provider, HCI has insight into all aspects of the natural gas industry. HCI currently sells products and provides services to natural gas companies in the United States, Canada, and worldwide.

HCI has always been behind the scenes protecting life and property and reducing methane/natural gas emissions.

In a similar vein, how would you say the niche of leak detection has evolved?

Leak Detection Technologies have changed through the years from catalytic/thermal conductivity and flame-ionization methodologies to optical infrared and laser-based technologies of today. For example, HCI offers Advanced Mobile Leak Detection using Discover AMLD, an innovative parts-per-billion detector for methane and ethane gas which plays an important role in processes like gas gathering, transmission, and city gas distribution.

What would you say are the main challenges when it comes to leak detection, and how has technology evolved to combat these?

The challenges with leak detection today are public safety and the environment. The loss of natural gas through leaks can cause safety hazards to the public while at the same time, the release of Natural Gas (methane) is detrimental as a greenhouse gas (GHG) and a potential contributor to Climate Change.

Technology has evolved to become more specific, mobile, and user-friendly to address these challenges, with HCI at the forefront of this innovation. We continue to be part of the solution to reducing methane GHG emissions by providing advanced leak detection technologies and field services.

How does functioning as both a services provider and manufacturer allow for greater flexibility?

The fact that HCI is both a product manufacturer and provider of Field Services allows the Research and Development (R&D) initiatives to be extremely close to the Field user, both client and internal. This also allows for field testing to ensure the exceptional performance and durability of these commercial technologies.

With technology’s rapid innovation, continuing R&D to provide real-world solutions is vital. Also, by being both a services provider and manufacturer, HCI can react to cycles in the industry with flexibility and redirect resources and efforts in different ways to maintain high-quality solutions for clients.

Furthermore, HCI has cultivated close relationships with World, National, Regional, and State natural gas trade associations to remain close customers and regulatory bodies and understand their priorities.

What are some emerging fields in the industry, and where do you see them going in the future?

Technology is changing rapidly in today’s marketplace, so staying on top of our game and offering real-world solutions to our customers is vital.

Future technologies will see a lot more software enhancements which include Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR). We also see smarter portable, mobile and aerial-based platforms along with an increase in “fixed” continual gas detection technologies for 24/7/365 monitoring.

Ultimately, HCI has embraced innovation and been a changemaker in the utility industry for almost 90 years and will continue to do so with emerging fields.

About Paul D. Wehnert

Paul is currently the Executive Vice President – Chief Marketing Officer. He joined Heath in 1980 as a Field Consultant when he was recruited from the State University of New York at Syracuse with a degree in Environmental Science. Paul has served in many roles throughout his career, including Field Consultant, Operations Coordinator, Technical Services Consultant, Outside Sales in the Central Southwest and Mid-Atlantic Regions, National Sales Manager, and since 2002 in the position of Senior Vice President – Sales and Marketing. Paul has been instrumental in developing technical advances in leak detection, odorization and pipe/cable locating technologies. He is a member of numerous industry associations dedicated to educating both public and private entities about the safety of the natural gas industry. He has presented papers and provided instruction for private, municipal and investor-owned utilities, the Department of Transportation, the Transportation Safety Institute, state regulatory agencies, and numerous State, regional and worldwide gas associations/entities around the world.

This information has been sourced, reviewed and adapted from materials provided by Heath Consultants Incorporated.

For more information on this source, please visit Heath Consultants Incorporated.

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